Journaling has become a popular pastime in recent years. From art journals to bullet journals, people are recognizing the health benefits of self-expression. Caregivers who make time to journal find it has the power to boost mood, improve problem-solving skills, reduce stress, and more.
5 Ways Journaling Improves Health
- Lower stress: The very act of getting your thoughts and fears down on paper can help you work through them. It might help you realize the situation isn’t as dire as you think, or give you the perspective you need to come to a solution. Lowering your stress level can aid in preventing chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and depression.
- Attitude of gratitude: Journaling provides you with an opportunity to recognize all you have to be grateful for in life. While the days might be challenging, especially if you are a family caregiver, there are still reasons to feel positive each day. Living with gratitude can help ward off depression and other mental health problems.
- Creative problem-solving: Writing and art journaling use the right side of the brain, the mind’s creative center. When you tap into this part of the brain, you are able to see problems in a new light and arrive at more creative solutions. You may be able to solve your biggest caregiving challenges by looking at the situation a little differently.
- Mindfulness: Maintaining a journal also helps you connect with your spiritual side. As you begin to work through your struggles, you can move beyond them to find peace. Living in the moment becomes easier to do. This can result in calmer, more mindful days.
- Brain boost: Creativity challenges the brain. Many researchers say doing so helps delay or prevent cognitive decline. Whether you choose to create a written journal or an art journal, you might be promoting a healthier brain.
How to Start a Journal
Figuring out how to get started can be a barrier to reaping the rewards of journaling. We have a few ideas to make it a little easier for you to begin.
- Decide on a format: While writing is the preferred format for most people who journal, it isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to express themselves through an art journal. This can be as simple as using watercolor pens to doodle your activities and thoughts for the day. The artist Julia Cameron, on the other hand, suggests a process she calls “morning pages.” In this method, you write your stream of consciousness down on paper for 15 to 20 minutes each morning.
- Commit the time: Don’t let this be one of those resolutions you mean to get around to doing “some day.” Block out time every day for journaling and commit to giving this effort for at least one month. You’ll likely begin to see the rewards long before then.
- Use prompts: The longer you journal, the easier the process will become. In getting started, however, you might need a few prompts. Asking yourself questions and answering them, documenting the highs and lows of the day, or even listing ten things you are grateful for can all provide the prompts you need to begin.
- Create a sacred space: The environment you are in can impact your ability to relax and connect with your thoughts and feelings. It might help to create a quiet spot to retreat to for journaling. Adding a candle and some soft music can help calm the mind.